Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wolf Swamp and Deep Lake in SGL 38, PA

Hiking at Wolf Swamp in Pennsylvania - USA Today Travel

GPS Coordinates 41.044686, -75.372686

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Gravel parking for SGL 38 on right side of Camelback Road 1/4 mile before Big Pocono State Park.

State Game Lands 38 - Pennsylvania Game Commission
I found the USGS topo maps to be somewhat better.  Search for "Tannersville, PA" and you'll need both the Mount Pocono and Pocono Pines maps.

  • 12.2 miles but much shorter loops can be made  (I, ummm, got a little turned around, plus I got a tour of unmarked trails not on the maps from a local hiker I ran into.)
  • In the summary at the end I outlined a 8.85 mile hike capturing all of the highlights and eliminating the areas where I had problems following the woods roads
  • Hiking in the Poconos Falcon Guide describes a 4.3 mile loop on page 72 - I had intended for the beginning and end of this hike to be the same only in reverse

The book mentioned above finishes the hike by climbing steeply up the power cut.  I decided to start by descending the power cut since I am not too keen on climbing steeply at the end of a 10+ mile hike.
Northern Flicker
The power cut leads to an abandoned rail bed with a gorgeous ravine on the left...
... then the earth drops away along both sides.  It's very pretty in this area and I wished it were longer than it was.
Deep Lake
Sand Spring
This poor little guy!  We startled him when we came around the bend and he tried to turn himself around to slither off into the grass but was in such a frenzy he tied himself in a knot and was flopping around all over the place.  He eventually got his front end going in the right direction and paused for a picture.
Wolf Swamp
Somebody raised a family in there.
Pretty grassy road along Wolf Swamp.
Some early fall foliage.

The moon from Wolf Swamp.  It was a crystal clear day after a cold front had moved in.
Wolf Swamp from the far western end.
Ruffed Grouse
"The Knoll" at 2,010 feet.
View from the Knoll.
View from the Knoll.
Unnamed Lake after the Knoll
It's all woods roads hiking and although woods road can sometimes become boring, these woods road lead to very interesting places!
A hawk flying over.
A large feather.
Mourning Dove
Red Eft
Back at the dam at Wolf Swamp.
A tour of gorgeous footpaths through the woods by a local hiker - how wonderful!  Thanks!
Back at the power cut without having to climb up.

[  0.00]  With your back to the road, turn right and walk to the far corner of the parking area to a gated woods road; continue beyond the gate
[  0.05]  Turn right in the power cut and descend along the gravel road steeply at times
[  0.50]  Keep straight when another power cut comes in from the right
[  0.60]  Keep straight when a woods road leaves sharply to the left
[  0.80]  Turn left at fork through rhododendron when right side continues uphill in the power cut
[  0.90]  Turn left on abandoned rail bed with ravine on left
[  1.15]  Keep left at fork
[  1.50]  Keep straight on woods road when footpath goes into the woods on the left
[  2.00]  Keep straight on woods road when footpath goes into the woods on the left
[  2.15]  Turn right on grassy woods road at Deep Lake
[  2.30]  Keep right at fork at end of Deep Lake on left
[  2.45]  Sand Spring, retrace
[  2.60]  Turn right to Deep Lake, retrace and continue right on grassy woods road
[  2.75]  At end of Deep Lake, right on woods road
[  2.80]  Right on woods road to Deep Lake, no need to retrace, continue on and loop left to meet back up with original woods road
[  2.95]  Keep left at fork, few steps later at T-intersection, turn left
[  3.00]  Keep straight when grassy woods road leaves to the right
[  3.25]  Turn right on grassy woods road just before Wolf Swamp
[  3.85]  Grassy woods road veers uphill to the right away from Wolf Swamp
[  4.20]  At feed plot #18 keep right (you won't see the #18 on a post until leaving the field at the far end)
[  4.45]  Keep left at another food plot on the right
[  4.55]  At 4-way intersection with a red painted rock on the left, cross over and continue on same woods road; Deep Lake visible to the right down below
[  5.00]  Keep left at the fork
[  5.10]  Keep straight to "The Knoll" overlook when woods road turns left; retrace
[  5.15] Coming from "The Knoll" turn right to continue downhill on woods road
[  5.30]  Unnamed lake on right
[  5.80]  Keep straight when woods road leaves to the left (that road ends at a field)
[  6.00]  At 4-way intersection, turn left
[  6.30]  At 4-way intersection, turn left***
*** This is where things started going wrong for me.  I had kept straight intending to loop around below Wolf Swamp but the woods road was covered with large crushed stone which was miserable to walk on, there had been clearing and burning of woods, then woods roads became overgrown and fizzled out where I needed to turn.  It was unpleasant and quite unattractive so I would suggest avoiding this area and turning left instead of going straight at [6.30].  I eventually ended up at the intersection with the red painted rock and that is where this road leads to.
[  7.10]  (estimating mileage) At 4-way intersection with red painted rock on the left, keep straight
[  7.30]  Keep straight when woods road comes in from left
[  7.35]  Woods road comes in from left (came in that way earlier in the hike from Deep Lake)
[  7.40]  Keep straight when grassy woods road comes in from right
[  7.65]  Keep straight across dam at Wolf Swamp***
*** From this point I had a guided tour of trails that I could not even begin to describe without a map available so what follows is how I would have ended the hike but keep in mind I did not go this way so distance is estimated.  Either way you end up back in the power cut by the parking lot.
[  8.35]  Keep straight when a woods road comes in from the right - there should be a large rock with "Wolf Swamp & Deep Lake" painted on it
[  8.85]  Turn left to power cut and parking

The hike as described above shown on the USGS topo maps:


  1. Spectacular...........LOVE the openness of this trail. It will go on our list for sure. I don't like being in the woods on gorgeous days.
    Photography is stunning. Can't belive you can get all that wildlife on camera- especially that quail. We flushed one as we went by last week (on St Michael's farm Mercer County) way would I ever have gotten a photo!!

    Lesley and Elsie

  2. Thanks, Lesley! It is sheer luck when I can get a picture of wildlife like that. That grouse's flock (like all 100 of them - that is what it sounded like) took off in a split second leaving the one little terrified hen behind frozen in fear so I just talked to her while I took her picture and I think she realized we meant her no harm. This is definitely a hike worth doing and I hear it is spectacular with fall foliage. Just be sure you go on a Sunday because of hunting season - no hunting on Sundays in PA.


  3. Terrific descriptions and pics of your hike !!!!
    I hike at SGL 38 up to 12 times a year. Its beauty is different throughout the year.
    There are so many trails and elevation options, its impossible to get bored.